Dew Drops On A Lily Pad records her thoughts and emotions.
Everyone has an outlet to release frustrations and for Mother A. Mangalam, it’s writing poetry. “There are many things I’m unable to express in a platform to blow it out of my system so I put my anger into writing. The irony is that as a child, my memory for poetry was hopeless,” she says, laughing.
When her mentor Swami Satyananda died, Mother Mangalam went into a period of despair. To replenish her energy, she would practise silence every Sunday. She wouldn’t utter a word to anyone and turned to writing poems.
“I don’t have a set theme. If I read about violence, I have to let out something because I’m totally against it. Whatever comes to my mind at whatever time, I pen it on paper,” she says.
In 2001, the Pure Life Society (PLS) compiled her writings and published a book of poems called Dew Drops On A Lily Pad. She has also written another book on the history of Kuala Lumpur schools in Tamil, and has been the editor and publisher of the Dharma Quarterly since 1961. Recently, PLS published her second book, entitled Mother. It contains 59 poems of her struggles to help underprivileged children.
Not only does Mother Mangalam write poems, she loves making and giving kashayam (home-brewed Indian medicine) for various ailments – something she learnt from her grandmother. As we chat, she tells me the antidote for menstrual pain, pimples, etc.
Mother Mangalam recalls: “As a child, I had terrible sinus problems and the doctor said I had to undergo surgery, but through pranayama (breathing) taught by Swami Satyananda, I was able to get rid of the problem. I continue to do it though I miss out sometimes. I plan to compile what I know into a book so people can use natural remedies as an alternative.”
At 88, Mother Mangalam remains a tireless champion of the poor